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Dresden police chief steps down over phone sweep scandal

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Dresden police chief steps down over phone sweep scandal
Photo: DPA
14:57 CEST+02:00
Dresden's police chief has been forced out of his job after it emerged that police collected a massive amount of data from mobile phones during February anti-fascist demonstrations that left more than 100 officers injured.

Dieter Hanitsch and other police officials had defended the gathering of data on February 19 as necessary for the maintenance of law and order. But some politicians and privacy advocates complained that citizens' right to privacy had been violated and debated the legality of the operation.

Anti-fascist groups launched the protests – which included staging sit-ins and blocking roads – in order to disrupt planned neo-Nazi marches through Dresden.

But violence broke out after some of the protesters tried to get past police and into the area where neo-Nazis were preparing to march. About 112 police officers and an unknown number of protesters were injured in the clashes.

Officials later admitted that they had set up facilities on the edge of the protests to capture mobile phone data that could later be used to target law breakers. But data from the phones of journalists, peaceful protesters and bystanders was also swept up.

State legislative authorities have since been investigating what happened and whether it was legal.

Hanitsch is being given a new position at state of Saxony's police headquarters. The official reason for his removal as Dresden chief was "deficits of information."

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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